February 23, 2018
We are a little past the midpoint of our projected thirteen-week project of church renovation.
Here is a summary of what we have done and what remains to be accomplished.
What has been accomplished:
Painting: The walls, columns, stone work around the windows have been painted. New stencil work has been painted in the interior of all the arches. In the side transepts, the rear walls of the two apses (side altars) have received decorative finishing as well as the window areas that have the statues of Mary, St Joseph, St. Theresa and St. Anthony. The wood reredos in the sanctuary has been painted as well.
Sanctuary enhancements: The marble pedestal from the side altar has been placed now in the center of the reredos. The main altar has been moved up two feel to create some space between the tabernacle and the altar.
Pew and floor refinishing: The pews and floors have been sanded and stained.
Stained glass windows: The large windows in either transept (depicting scenes for the birth of Christ and the crucifixion of Christ) have been removed in order to be re-leaded and framed with protective plexiglass. Likewise, two windows on the south side of the Church have been removed for the samework. The re-leading and the re-framing of these windows is a very tedious process, and so this skillful work will take some time before all the windows are completed. As each window is removed, the existing plexiglass is kept in its place to let in light until the new plexiglass and restored stained glass windows are returned and reset.
Work that is being accomplished between now and the opening of the Church on March 23.
* The tabernacle is being refinished (and we are hoping and praying that the work will be competed when the Church opens on Palm Sunday.
* The pews will be re-anchored and new kneeler pads and fabric placed upon the kneelers.
* Additional hymnal racks will be added to the existing hymnal racks.
* New seat padding for the pews will be installed.
* The baptismal font will move from where it presently stands (against the pillar) to the space where exists the present front row of the north side of the Church nave. This will increase the visibility for baptisms when they are celebrated.
* Some accented highlights will be made on the ambo (pulpit).
* The tile flooring will be repaired (where needed) and all the tile will be refinished.
* The interior vinyl doors will be fixed and re-installed.
* The lighting in the sanctuary area as well as the side apses will be upgraded.
* New choir chairs in the north transept as well as the installation of new pews in the south transept.
* Placement of a new Sacred Heart statue in the north apse and placement of Our Lady of Westbury in the south apse with new devotional (real) candles.
What remains to be accomplished after Easter:
– completion of the work on all the stained glass windows of the Church. This is happening in stages in such a way that there will be minimal disruption of our Church services. Final completion of all the 59 stained glass windows in the Church will be done by September of 2018.
– Refinishing the exterior doors of the Church. The original doors are strong but need a lot of repair work because of neglect.
Hopefully this work will happen sometime in the summer of 2018.
– The replacement of the air-handlers and new air-conditioning compressors for the Church. Hopefully
this work can be accomplished in the winter of 2018-2019.
January 10 2018
The "side Altars" of Saint Brigid's parish
In the return of the tabernacle to the center of the Church sanctuary, the question naturally arises as to what will happen with the side altars or "apses" recessed within each of the transepts of the Church. In the south transept where the tabernacle presently exists, we plan to make that a shrine to the Blessed Mother, dominated by the statue of Our Lady of Westbury, and possibly accompanied by the devotional pictures of the Blessed Mother that have adorned the Church that were at one time near the statue of Our Lady of Westbury.
The Liturgical Office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre has told us that we are not to have two large crucifixes in the Church. The main crucifix, the one that has been part of the Church since its opening, is presently positioned in the sanctuary above the wood reredos. That is where we intend to keep that crucifix. Many people have come to associate that crucifix with our Church. The other crucifix was in the north apse. In removing this second crucifix, the question arises, what can be placed there?
The idea came that there could be a statue of Jesus in that north apse. Back in 2003, Father Martin had commissioned a special statue for his church in Notre Dame. It is unique (truly one of a kind), carved of wood and painted in the same pastel colors of our Lady of Westbury. What Father Martin had designed in this statue was the concept of Jesus, surrounded by people of all races and cultures (similar to Mary with the children). As you can see in this picture, there are adults as well as children. What you may not be able to see in this picture is the fact that all the figures are touching each other -- the idea of interconnectedness of family -- the very heart and definition of Saint Brigid's church!
The statue is expensive (hand carved wood). Were someone to want to donate this statues in memory of a loved one, a $50,000 memorial (paid over time) would cover the cost of the statue.
December 17, 2017
The Placement of the Tabernacle in the Renovated Church
Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, many churches underwent renovations to accommodate the principles of the revised liturgy envisioned in the Decree on the Sacred Liturgy. Over the period of the next thirty-five years, renovated churches as well as newly constructed churches were built “in the spirit of the council” without specific principles to guide these changes.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued guidelines entitled, Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship. There we read: “The general law of the Church provides norms concerning the tabernacle and the place for the reservation of the Eucharist that express the importance Christians place on the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Code of Canon Law (canon 938) directs that the Eucharist be reserved “in a part of the church that is prominent, conspicuous, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer."
Built of Living Stones sees that the seating of the Church be organized in such a way that the faithful, in their full, conscious and active participation in the liturgy, are facing the place where the word of God is proclaimed (ambo) and the sacrifice of the Lord is re-presented (the altar). Such is the case in the seating in our Church. The document also states that “if the tabernacle is placed in a chapel of reservation, that the chapel be conspicuous to all the faithful and that it should provide kneelers and chairs for those who come to pray.” This last statement may create some discussion in the current set-up of the side altar where the Blessed Sacrament currently exists. The side apse is not really designed to be a chapel of reservation since the seats face the altar and not the tabernacle. Those who enter the church and desire to spend time in adoration would find it difficult to sit or kneel before the Blessed Sacrament.
Some might argue, “Let’s make the side apse a chapel of adoration where we can just take the portable seats, have them face the tabernacle during the times of the day when Mass is not going on, and then turn those seats to face the altar for Mass.” However, there is a theological principle that is being violated in what otherwise might be a practical solution. Eucharistic worship/ adoration and the celebration of the Mass are two events that should flow one into the other. Eucharistic worship apart from the liturgy gives us a deeper longing for what we will receive in the liturgy and allows us to savor the One whom we have received. The architecture of the Church ought to respect that seamless flow of adoration-liturgy-adoration so that one can sit anywhere in the Church and be in Eucharistic worship. Similarly, one can sit anywhere in the Church and be present to the action that is taking place on the altar.
In a more recent document, Pope Benedict XVI (Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007) writes, “The place where the Eucharistic species are reserved should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. It is therefore necessary to take into account the building’s architecture. In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament Chapel close to the sanctuary; where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the center of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous.”
December 10, 2017
Strength, Warmth and Beauty: The Story of Saint Brigid's Church
From its dedication on July 4, 1916 to this present day, so many people have entered through the doors of Saint Brigid's parish and have been taken by the strength, the warmth and the beauty of this magnificent Church The architecture of our church building is Norman Romanesque of the 12th century (the only such Church on Long Island) which is characterized by massive pillars conveying stability and strength. The pillars themselves are masterpieces, and we hope that in the restoration work, we will be able to accent these pillars in such a way as to communicate their incredible unique beauty. That same decorative stonework can also be seen around the frames of the stained glass windows.
Of course, the warmth in the Church building is found in the wood -- the reredos (the wood panel in the center of the sanctuary) as well as the pews and floors and intricate work of our beautiful ceiling. The pews and the floors will be sanded and re-stained. We plan to replace the "temporary" pews that were recently placed in the south transept of the Church with sturdier pews that better match the rest of the pews. All the pews will have padded seats and the kneelers will be re-padded as well. As many of you know, the reredos that was placed in the sanctuary in the most recent renovation (1984) was meant to be more decorative; however, unexpected costs at that time (related to the work on the church steeple) depleted the funds that were available. We hope to add some decorative beauty to the reredos as was originally intentioned by Father Fred Schaefer. The reredos will then be the proper background to frame the existing tabernacle when it is moved to the sanctuary of the Church.
Our Church is also a place of beauty. Perhaps the most beautiful part of our building are the stained glass windows. Back in 1984 as well as in 2005, certain companies that do stained glass restoration had noticed that the glass in the windows, most particularly those in the sanctuary of the Church, were in danger of falling out. All of you are aware of the "buckling" of the stained glass windows in north nave of the Church that require repair.
Various companies were brought in to examine the windows. We chose a company that will actually remove all the windows, repair what is broken, fix what needs to be re-leaded, and fit each window into an aluminum frame with a well vented polycarbonate layer that will not only protect the windows for decades to come but also will allow the beauty of the windows to be better seen from the outside of the Church as well. Speaking of beauty, our stations of the cross are beautiful works of art that we also plan to restore.
Where will we worship while the Church is closed?
From the beginning of January through most of March, the Church will be closed so that the painting, the floors, the pews and the sanctuary work can be completed. Weekday Masses (including Saturday morning) and weekday confessions will take place in the newly renovated Saint Anthony's Hall. Saturday evening and Sunday Masses will take place in the school. The Mass schedule will need to be adjusted in order to accommodate all the Masses in the school chapel and in the school auditorium.
Saturday, 5pm (English) and 7pm (Spanish) will take place in the school chapel.
Sunday 7am (English) 8:30am (Italian), 9am (formerly 9:15am English), 11am (formerly 10:45 Spanish) and 12:30 (formerly 12:15 Spanish) will take place in the school chapel
Sunday 10am (English Family Mass) and 11:30am (English) will take place in Code Auditorium.
November 29, 2017
The Church Renovation - In Phases:
During the time of our recent capital campaign, we had outlined the needed work we hoped to accomplish in the “Church Renovation” phase of our parish projects. As we have neared the completion of the process of interviewing the various companies that do Church interior designs, we have a clearer idea concerning the timing of the work that will be accomplished.
Phase One - Church interior: The painting of the Church, the restoration of the pews and flooring and tiles, the restoration of the Stations of the Cross, the relocation of the tabernacle and the creation of the “Our Lady of Westbury” shrine will take place from January 2 through March 23 (the Church will reopen on Palm Sunday). During this time, I am hoping to have opportunities for you to see and comment on the progress of the work.
Phase Two - Stained Glass Windows: In order that the windows are done properly, (re-leading, new protective coverings, replacing broken and missing pieces of glass), the windows will have to be removed and the work done off premises. During this time, the Church will still be available for worship. The exact timing of this work will soon be announced.
Phase Three - Exterior doors and moving of air handlers: This work will probably take place in the fall-winter of 2018
November 1, 2017
Saint Anthony Hall:
As you drive toward the Church on Post Avenue, perhaps you have been able to see the progress of Saint Anthony’s Hall. The first floor “face lift” of the meeting hall itself has been completed for some time now. While not in the original scope of the projects we wanted to accomplish, the remodeling of Saint Anthony’s was made possible through the “matching gift” made by a very generous parishioner. The interior work of the new reception area and the upstairs offices are near completion as we wait for furniture and other finishing touches. Meanwhile, a temporary safety railing has been put up as we await the finished iron railing so that we can safely use the meeting space of the first floor.
Saint Brigid Church:
As you have heard us announce, we are closing the Church building between January 2 and the week before Palm Sunday to allow contractors to do all the necessary work in an unimpeded way. During this time, we will be repainting the interior, refinishing and padding the pews, replacing the portable chairs, relocating the tabernacle to the sanctuary area, addressing the lighting of the sanctuary, creating prayerful shrines in the present apses in both the north and south transepts and, most importantly, restoring the stained glass windows with new outer protective covering, fixing the bowed and broken pieces of glass and re-leading the windows.
August 31, 2017
Because of the incredible outpouring of generosity on the part of our parishioners in our recent “matching gift collection,” I have a certain confidence that we will be able to accomplish all the projects that we set out to do when we first began our capital campaign some eighteen months ago. Within a few weeks, the first floor of Saint Anthony’s will be completed (new windows, new ceiling and lighting, more efficient air conditioning, redesigned closet and storage space, new painting and baseboards). By the end of September, all of the work in Saint Anthony’s Hall will be completed (handicapped accessible entranceway, office vestibule, elevator to the second floor and seven new offices).
Come September, we will begin to assemble bids for the renovation work in the Church. This work will be conducted in two phases as the money from redeemed pledges is made available to us. In the first phase (January through March of 2018), the Church will be closed in order to repair and reinforce our beautiful stained glass windows, refinish the pews, replace broken chairs, paint, reinforce weaker sections of the roof and move the tabernacle to the sanctuary of the Church. In the second phase (fall of 2018), we will have the money to relocate the air handlers and repair the exterior doors leading into the Church. In the winter of 2019 we will work on the school chapel.
July 1, 2017
As you know, on May 17th, Stasi Brothers began the incredible task of renovating Saint Anthony's Hall. So, over this past month, what has happened?
Well, all the asbestos on the second floor, the first floor and the basement has been successfully abated. New "header beams" supporting the second floor have been put into place and the new beams and new columns have been secured to new cement footings. This building is going to stand up for another hundred years!
As for the second floor, the new offices have been framed out -- and the new reception area of the first floor has likewise been framed out. The air conditioning units will soon be installed once the ceiling on the second floor is completed.
This past week, much discussion has happened around the placement of the handicapped ramp that will built for the new renovated entrance facing Post Avenue. A few fun facts have been discovered.
1. Did you know that saint Anthony's Hall sits at the foot of "Breezy Hill"? That means the back entrance of Saint Anthony's sits about four feet higher than the front entrance. This means that the handicapped ramp (which by code measures one foot for every inch of incline) will be close to sixty-feet in length. Now we don't want the ramp to be a skate-boarder's paradise -- so we have several turns in the ramp to make the accessibility easier for those in wheelchairs and walkers.
2. We could have done away with the ramp at the front entrance and just keep the ramp in the rear -- and save a lot of money in the process -- but that means that if someone who has mobility issues would have to walk from the back of Saint Anthony's to the front of Saint Anthony's to get a Mass card. That might be awkward for someone, especially if they are walking through Saint Anthony's interior while a meeting is going on in the hall.
3. There may be an additional cost involved if we are going to do this right -- but we really should do this right. All to often, when we take shortcuts, bad problems are "fixed" with bad solutions making the overall situation only worse. Let's do it right the first time around!
May 1, 2017
Work at St. Anthony's Hall:
Perhaps most of you have heard that Stasi Brothers of Westbury was awarded the contract to renovate the second floor of Saint Anthony’s and to create a new entranceway and reception area for the first floor of the building. In the course of the bidding process, it was noticed that there was a three inch “sagging” in the second floor -- a situation that was created when the support walls of the first floor were taken down (when the building was no longer going to be used as a school).
In order to reinforce the building and most particularly to even out the second floor, a new support beam is being installed between the first and second floor, and new footings are being poured in the basement of the hall to reinforce the support beams that are presently in place on the first floor. Also, within this month, asbestos abatement will take place both in the basement area as well as the second floor of Saint Anthony’s.
February 1, 2017
As you know, the next project that we will soon begin as part of our centennial renovation will be the creation of parish offices on the second floor of Saint Anthony’s as well as the expansion and renovation of the lobby entranceway to Saint Anthony’s facing Post Avenue.
The village of Westbury has recently granted the needed variances to proceed with the project and will soon be issuing the necessary building permits. In the meantime, the building office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre has given approval of the project and are assembling bid packages for construction companies to assess the project and to make their bid.
Construction work on Saint Anthony’s may begin as soon as early March. During the course of the many listening sessions that took place in preparation for these projects, it was suggested that certain items in the Church be taken care of even before the major work in the Church is done in the winter of 2018.
Two such projects are the improvement of the lighting (using long lasting energy saving LED bulbs) as well as the as the reconstruction of the existing bathroom. The lighting project has pretty much been completed; the bathroom construction will take place next week. So, next weekend (if all goes well) take a look at the new bathroom and tell me what you think!
This weekend, I am making one final invitation for people to become engaged in the centennial campaign by making a three-year pledge. It is my hope that in this final push we may exceed our goal of $2,000,000 and therefore have the money that we will need in order to complete all of the projects that we have planned in this centennial renovation. God bless all of you for your generosity and love of Saint Brigid’s!
January 29, 2017
Over the course of the next two and a half years, we will be engaging in the various projects that are being funded by the Centennial Campaign, For the Love of Mercy. Already we have installed the new gas boiler, working even in this cold winter much more efficiently than the sixty-year-old oil furnace which it replaced. Soon (we hope by early March) we will begin the projects surrounding the renovation of the second floor of Saint Anthony’s, including the creation of a new lobby and handicapped accessible entrance way (facing Post Avenue) as well as the new stairs and elevator to gain access to the second floor.
Soon after the completion of the new office spaces, we will fix and update the present Schaefer Center, moving the food pantry from the basement of the rectory to the center so that we now effectively have a single outreach building containing all the services that outreach provides for this community. At the same time, we will be doing a few of the projects around the Church that were suggested by the many listening sessions we had almost a year ago (such as replacing the old bathroom and enhancing the lighting in the Church).
The major work in the Church will happen between January through March of 2018 when we will close the Church entirely for three months in order to begin the repair of the stained glass windows, repair the pews, refinish both the wood and the tile floors, repair and refinish the doors, relocate the tabernacle, etc. In the fall of 2018, we will begin the process of relocating the air-handlers from the choir loft area. In the spring of 2019, we plan to look at the installation of wall mounted air conditioning units in the school chapel.
Through the generosity of over 800 families, we have already collected $1,931,000 in pledges – just about $69,000 short of our two million dollar goal. I am making a final appeal to families who may not have been able to participate in the campaign at the time when we first introduced it almost a year ago. As I wrote in last week’s column, I believe that there is a certain positive feeling when we have attained any goal that has been set for us. It shows us that we are not alone in our love for the parish and our desire to want it to grow and thrive in the years to come. Reaching our goal convinces us that there are many people who love our church building, at the suppaot the work that is accomplished in outreach and want to see the landmark buildings of this parish function in a more productive way for the sake of the mission of the parish.
So, here we are, one final time, to try to garner enough pledges to close that $69,000 gap. We are over 96% of the way to going over the top! Remember, your pledge can be made over a at the three year period. I have chosen to fulfill my $10,000 pledge through Faith Direct – an automatic deduction is made from my credit card each month. It really is the easy way to give!
January 21, 2017
Why not settle for $1,930,000? What’s the magic of asking more in order to reach our two million dollar goal?
I have asked that question a number of times over the past few weeks – and, quite honestly, my hesitation to ask for the remaining $70, 000 is a fear that I will be a nuisance. Besides, I feel that what we received might be enough to do all that we hope to accomplish as a result of the great generosity of the people who did contribute to the centennial campaign.
So, why would I make one final effort to reach the two million dollar goal?
First of all, were we to make our goal, I think that it is a great sign of witness to the next generation that this generation felt committed enough to the life and mission of the parish to want to raise significant money so that the physical structures and the programs within those structures could flourish for generations to come. There is an increased sense of engagement in the parish when one can say, “I was part of that two-million-dollar drive.”
However, there is a more practical reason which I would like to explore with you. While we have a commitment of $1,930,000 in pledges, unforeseen circumstances may arise among our donors in the next three years where not all of those pledges will be able to be paid in their entirety. In one sense, the extra $70,000 for which I am asking can possibly be a safety cushion to fill in the gaps by those who, for whatever reason, were no longer able to fulfill their pledge commitment.
But, on the other hand, let’s say that we will have enough money to complete all of the projects that we have spoken about in the campaign. One of the additional projects that we might be able to tackle (a project that was not listed in the capital campaign) is the full restoration the first floor of Saint Anthony’s Hall. Some of you may have already seen the beautiful work done in the kitchen and bathroom area of the first floor of Saint Anthony’s – a generous gift made by the Italian community and Padre Pio Society. So, let’s see if we can raise the money to do the rest of the first floor of Saint Anthony’s (take down the paneling, new ceiling and at the fixtures, windows and window treatments). It’s a dream which I think is doable if we have at the that final $70,000.
So, if you haven’t gotten around to making a pledge yet, we have one final chance to at the make this historic milestone of two million. You can be part of that great story that you at the tell your grandkids about a generation of people so in love with their church. Next weekend (January 28th/29th), I will have pledge cards and brochures available in the pews and in the rear of
the Church. In this final push, let us pray that all of us can do something beautiful for God.
January 5, 2017
Presently, we have received about $1,925,000 in pledges and payments toward our capital campaign, “For the Love of Mercy.”
I am very grateful that even during the Christmas season, when people are so pre-occupied with the expenses that naturally surround the holidays, people took the time to be generous in remembering the needs of the campaign and our desire to reach that 2 million dollar goal.
Even recently, I have received several payments well over $1000.00 toward the campaign -- even from non-parishioners who so love our Church!
In short, there is still time to make a pledge towards this campaign!
Architectural plans for the renovation of the second floor of Saint Anthony’s Hall have been submitted to us as we await approval of our permit applications made to the Village of Westbury
November 17, 2016 - The HEAT is ON!
It has been a frustrating three weeks since the time of the completion of the NEW church boiler and the installation of GAS! But after days of negotiating how to get around a six foot underground drainage pipe that runs beneath our sidewalk (this is an old drainage system from many years ago connecting the waters up north in Old Westbury to the old Hempstead Plains or present day Eisenhower Park), we finally brought the gas to the Church and we are fired up with heat. I am grateful for the diligent work of one of our staff members who kept at National Grid to make all this happen (without his help, we would have had an intolerable winter in the Church). Let us pray now that the successive projects will go smoothly!
October 8, 2016 - News about our Parish Renovations
Over the past seven weeks, we have engaged Fiber Control to remove all of the asbestos in the area of the old boiler of Saint Brigid’s Church as well as the crawl spaces where the pipes provide heat to the radiators. This company also was responsible for the removal of the sixty-year-old boiler. This work was done meeting our expectations both of cost ($52,500) as well as time required.
Presently, we have engaged KG Mechanical who will be installing the new boiler ($154.500). They have been working feverishly to assemble the new boiler, the feeder, flues and chimney lining as well as put in the cement footings for the new boiler and the gas meter. We have successfully coordinated with National Grid to bring the gas line for our new boiler on October 28th. By November 1st, our new heating system will be in place and operational!
In a few weeks, we will be reviewing the mechanical drawings provided by the architect for the second floor renovations of Saint Anthony’s Hall. This work will not only involve the creation of nine office spaces on the second floor but will also include the redesign of the present lobby space (the vestibule area of the first floor) as well as a handicapped accessible ramp and doorway for the Post Avenue entrance into Saint Anthony’s Hall. We will continue to keep you informed as this work progresses.
A new Boiler is being installed - just in time for Winter!
As you know, it has been the hope and vision of this centennial Campaign to raise enough money to take care of needed projects that first came to our attention when Father Ralph had conducted an engineering study some eight years ago. At that time, the cost of all those needed repairs and renovations came to over five million dollars. Since the time of that engineering study, the annual disbursements from the Millennium Fund were able to address some of those needs; however, were we to rely solely on those disbursements, it would be over thirty years before that needed work would finally get done! For that reason, we began this centennial campaign and, thanks to the commitment and generosity of almost 770 families, we have been able to raise over 1.8 million dollars.
The first project we want to accomplish is the replacement of our sixty-year old oil furnace with a more energy-efficient gas furnace. Because of the inefficiency of the old boiler and the annual needed repairs to that system, the sooner we can put in something that will in the long run save the parish money the better. We undertook a bidding process having invited a number of local vendors to participate. This past week, we signed a contract with an asbestos abatement company as well as with a boiler company to begin work which will be completed for the 2016-2017 heating season.